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Savaging Obama

The election of Barack Obama poked the racist beehive. Rightists, ranging from neo-Nazis to mainstream conservatives, eagerly reframed issues in ways that invoked racialized fears among some white voters. White fears and white rage over affirmative action, poverty, education, language, terrorism, and national security all can be harnessed to the task of using racism as a tool for political mobilization.

Racist rhetoric began when Obama was still a Presidential candidate. Racist violence occured on the day he was elected and has continued. Racist slurs against Obama suggest he was not born in the United States. Racists suggest Obama is a Muslim and racist conspiracy theorists add that he is engaged in treasonous plots to undermine the US. Racist caracatures depict Obama as a savage. Yet many on the political right dismiss the charge that this racist campaign is exploited by a faction of the Republican Party.

A loose-knit right-wing network of ideological strategists, Republican Party operatives, and media demagogues generate the odious smears. This right-wing McCarthyism echoes the scapegoating of liberals, union and community organizers, peace activists, gay people, Jews, and people of color targeted during the malicious anticommunist witch hunts of the 1950s and 1960s.

Anti-Obama rhetoric also mimics 1960s claims calling the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. a dupe of a communist conspiracy--circulated by groups such as the ultra-conservative John Birch Society, the all-White “Citizens Councils,” and the Ku Klux Klan. Billboards and flyers with this message appeared across the South. Postcards were distributed nationwide.

The underlying trope is of subversion, betrayal, and treason by liberals who are either dupes of the conspiracy or witting agents of the plot to build collectivism and global governance. This claim was used to smear President Franklin D. Roosevelt as a fascist—and has resurfaced against Obama who is tagged as both Hitler and Stalin. A trope in this sense is a form of sloganeering that captures a complex idea in a short metaphor full of rich cultural or political baggage.

Into this guilt-by-association cesspool swims Aaron Klein who fancies himself a shark of an investigative journalist; but who is merely another bottom-feeder. Klein, a senior staff reporter for the hard right conspiracist World Net Daily, worked with notable Internet conspiracy crank Brenda J. Elliott (therealbarackobama.wordpress.com) to produce the book The Manchurian President: Barack Obama’s Ties to Communists, Socialists and other Anti-American Extremists.
Other anti-Obama books in this genre include:

  • Newt Gingrich, To Save America: Stopping Obama's Secular-Socialist Machine.
  • Sean Hannity: Conservative Victory: Defeating Obama's Radical Agenda.
  • Brad O'Leary, The Audacity of Deceit: Barack Obama's War on American Values.

A rung below these in terms of histrionics are:

  • Jerome R. Corsi, The Obama Nation: Leftist Politics and the Cult of Personality.
  • Floyd Brown & Lee Troxler, Obama Unmasked: Did Slick Hollywood Handlers Create the Perfect Candidate?

And a special category for a former architect of LaRouchite antisemitic conspiracy mania:

  • Webster Griffin Tarpley, Barack H. Obama: The Unauthorized Biography.
  • Webster Griffin Tarpley, Obama: The Postmodern Coup.

According to The Manchurian President, Obama was groomed as an ideologically-brainwashed puppet by a nest of subversive socialists and communists and other dangerous radicals based in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago.

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Extracted from Chip Berlet, ‘The Manchurian President’: Chicago’s Commie Liberal Puppet: The paranoid style of American politics is alive and well. In These Times, Culture Section, September 8, 2010

These resources compiled at the request of the Spirit House Project for a National Teach-In, Worship Service, and Candlelight Vigil
held On April 22, 2014, in Washington, DC

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